Saint of the Day – 4 January – Blessed Thomas Plumtree (Died 1570) Priest, Martyr, Lincolnshire, Priest, Rector of Stubton, Military Chaplain to Blessed Thomas Percy (7th Earl of Northumberland), renowned Preacher of the uprising and Martyr of the Rising of the North — hanged at Durham in 1570, after refusing to apostatise. For those unfamiliar with the “Rising of the North” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rising_of_the_North. Born in Lincolnshire, England and died by being hung, drawn and quartered on 4 January 1570 in the marketplace at Durham Castle, Durham, England. Additional Memorial – 1 December as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University.
Of the three hundred and fifteen of our Catholic ancestors, who sacrificed their lives for the Catholic faith in England and Wales, during the religious persecution of the 16th and 17th centuries, twenty six can be considered as “Martyrs of the North” as they were born, laboured or suffered within the confines of Northumberland and Durham. To return to England as a Priest was high treason punishable by hanging, drawing and quartering; to shelter a Priest was a felony punishable by imprisonment, fines, confiscation of property and in many cases, death. It was only true heroes and heroines of Christ, who could face such ordeals.
Thomas was born in the Diocese of Lincoln, was a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1546, he was made Rector of Stubton in his native county. He resigned his benefice on the change of religion under Elizabeth and became a schoolmaster at Lincoln but was obliged to resign the post on account of his faith.
But, it is as chief Chaplain and Priest of the army of the Northern Rising, that he won the Martyr’s palm.
His voice seems to have been like the Baptist’s and to have stirred high and low alike. His call to abandon heresy and to rally to the standard of the faith, ran through the northern counties and hundreds came in response to his summons.
He appears to have been celebrant of the Mass in Durham Cathedral, immediately preceding Fr Holmes’ sermon and the public Absolution which followed.
On his capture after the failure of the Rising, he was singled out as a notable example of the Priests who had officiated. On the gibbet in the marketplace at Durham, he was offered his life, if he would embrace heresy but he refused and dying to this world received eternal life from Christ. He suffered on 4 January 1572 and was buried in the marketplace. He was Beatified on 9 December 1886 by Pope Leo XIII (cultus confirmation).